Probate & Estate Administration
Essentially making sure that your estate is administered efficiently, tax liabilities settled and the beneficiaries receive their due inheritance.
Not all estates are simple. Life is complicated these days, and we can all leave problems behind. These are some of the issues we deal with every day.
- No will (intestacy)
- Home made wills
- Locating and listing the assets and liabilities
- Locating missing beneficiaries
- Disaffected relatives/beneficiaries
- Business or farming assets
- Completing the relevant probate and I.H.T. forms
- Preparing accounts
- Distributing the estate
The administration of un-contested estates with UK only assets. There is no standard estate. Wills & families vary. Some people do not make wills. Assets range from a few simple items to estates of great size and complexity. Tax considerations and business/agricultural property reliefs may apply. Problems may arise over lifetime gifts, income tax, pensions, trusts, locating beneficiaries and (on occasions – family disputes). The list is endless. We set out below our charges for dealing with the ‘average’ probate file, based on estate value, listing the disbursements payable and indicating what we will charge extra for and the basis of those extra charges.
For several years we have given detailed quotations based on the firm’s ‘Probate Checklist’. That process will continue. Our website is aimed at giving you an ‘average’ position, not knowing any of the issues surrounding the estate.
A brief list of work required in the ‘average’ estate is set out below.
- Provide you with a dedicated and experienced probate solicitor and/or legal executive to work on your matter.
- Identify the legally appointed executors or administrator and beneficiaries.
- Accurately identify the type of Probate application you will require.
- Obtain the relevant documents required to make the application.
- Complete the Probate Application and the relevant HMRC forms.
- Draft the Statement of Truth required to apply for Probate or Letters of Administration.
- Make the application to the Probate Registry on your behalf.
- Collect and distribute all assets in the estate.
- Deal with Inheritance Tax, Income Tax and other issues in the estate.
- Prepare simple estate accounts for approval.
We are also required to indicate a timescale. Most Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration can be obtained within 2 to 20 weeks of us being fully instructed. Times are likely to be longer if specialist valuations are required or where Inheritance Tax is payable. The time taken to administer estates may be determined by how long it takes to sell assets (usually the house) the time taken to settle and agree tax liabilities, family disputes and other factors that may cause delay. Nevertheless, most non-IHT taxable estates will be concluded within 9 months of instruction and taxable estates within 15 months of instruction. This is, however, a general guide only. The fee scales below do not include conveyancing charges on any property sale or transfer. Please see the separate scale on our website.
Our standard fee scale for estate administration :-
(Based on simple valid will. A house/flat and no more than 6 accounts/investments with different institutions)
For estates including house/flat up to | £100,000 | £595 plus VAT
For estates including house/flat up to | £150,000 | £795 plus VAT
For estates including house/flat up to | £200,000 | £995 plus VAT
For estates including house/flat up to | £250,000 | £1495 plus VAT
For estates including house/flat up to | £300,000 | £1,995 plus VAT
Above £300,000 1% gross estate (except for house/flat value) ½% gross value for house/flat
£325,000 estate (including £200,000 house)
£200,000 x ½%= £1,000
£125,000 x 1% = £1,250
£2,250 + VAT
There are relatively few disbursements in probate cases. The application fee for a Grant of Probate and Land Registry Office Copies are normally in the range £160 – £180, though the Government has announced an intention to raise fees very considerably in larger estates, date as yet unknown. These application fees are not subject to VAT. Other than these fees, professional valuation of certain assets (eg property, personal belongings and shares) may be needed – prices vary considerably depending on the items in question. Also there may be Land Registry fees payable ie if land/property is transferred to a beneficiary. These are not subject to VAT.
Many issues result in additional work being required in probate cases. The following list is not complete, but details many of the issues: –
- Valuation of private shares and agricultural assets
- The need to use the transferable nil-rate band (IHT)
- Use of the residence nil-rate band & transferable residence nil-rate band (IHT)
- Business and agricultural assets/reliefs
- Validity of wills/codicils and interpretational issues, family disputes/disharmony
- Unusual assets – shares, land, antiques
- Foreign assets
- Wills with discretionary and other forms of trust
- The effect of substantial lifetime gifts
- IHT planning – Deeds of Variation and disclaimers
- Estates with unusually large numbers of assets
- Settling income/capital gains tax liabilities to death (complex cases)
- Substantial debt owed to an estate – recovery processes
- Tracing missing beneficiaries
- Lost title deeds, share certificates and other documents
- Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 claims
The need for additional work will be agreed with clients in advance (as it becomes necessary) and charged at an hourly rate – currently £225 plus VAT per hour for Mr Dawson. In appropriate cases we may agree a cap or limit on these fees, however some extra disbursements may be payable depending on circumstances. Issues may arise where expert advice/ work from other professionals will be necessary and incur further costs i.e. employing an expert accountant to settle tax liabilities or a chartered surveyor to value land/premises other than private residences. Occasionally a barrister’s opinion as to the interpretation of a will or the validity of a claim against the estate. Again, we will agree a budget with you. We are always willing to discuss instructions with you – we are here to help at what is for all clients a difficult time.